- Among the many unhappy developments in U.S. industry
in recent decades has been the advent of "wreck it and run" management.
- A small coterie of senior managers takes over a company
and makes a brilliant show of short-term profits while actually driving
the business into the ground. They bail out just before it crashes, cashing
in their stock options as they go, and leave the employees, ordinary stockholders
and customers holding an empty bag.
- It is increasingly clear that under Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. armed forces have also been taken over by "wreck
it and run" management. When Rumsfeld leaves office, what will his
- -- A volunteer military without volunteers. The Army
missed its active-duty recruiting goal in April by almost half. Guard and
Reserve recruiting are collapsing. Retention will do the same as "stop
loss" orders are lifted.
- The reason, obviously, is the war in Iraq. Parents don't
want to be the first one on their block to have their kid come home in
- -- The world's largest pile of wrecked and worn-out military
equipment (maybe second-largest if we remember the old Soviet Navy). I'm
talking about basic stuff here: trucks, Humvees, personnel carriers, crew-served
weapons, etc. This is gear the Rumsfeld Pentagon hates to spend money on,
because it does not represent "transformation" to the high-tech,
videogame warfare it wrongly sees as the future.
- So far, deploying units have made up their deficiencies
by robbing units that are not deploying, often National Guard outfits.
But that stock has about run out, and some of the stripped units are now
facing deployment themselves, minus their gear.
- -- A military tied down in a strategically meaningless
backwater, Iraq, to the point where it can't do much else. A perceptive
reader recently wrote to me that "China has the luxury of the U.S.
inflicting grievous wounds, economic and military, on itself from our commitment
to spread 'democracy' ... Although the Iraqi insurgents may have the limited
purpose of ending an occupation, other global actors can sit back and watch
us bleed ourselves slowly to, at least, a weakened state. From that point
of view, the last thing these other actors wish to see is either a victory
or a quick defeat. Instead, events are proceeding nicely as they are."
Exactly correct, and those other actors include al-Qaida.
- -- Commitments to hundreds of billions of dollars worth
of future weapons programs that are militarily as useful as zeppelins but
less fun to watch. If the Army had its Future Combat System, a semi-portable
Maginot Line that will cost more than any Navy or Air Force program of
equal uselessness, in Iraq or Afghanistan today, would it make any difference?
No. Maybe FCS really stands for Funnels Cash System.
- -- A world wary of U.S. intentions and skeptical of any
U.S. claims about anything. In business, goodwill is considered a tangible
asset. In true "wreck it and run" fashion, Rumsfeld & Co.
have reduced the value of that asset to near zero. A recent survey of the
German public found Russia was considered a better friend than the United
- -- Finally, the equivalent of an unfavorable ruling by
a bankruptcy judge in the form of a lost war. We will be lucky if we can
get out of Iraq with anything less than a total loss.
- Earlier this week, I attended the funeral and burial
of one of the United States' real military heroes at Arlington cemetery.
Col. David Hackworth would not have sat silent, as our current senior military
leadership sits, while "wreck it and run" civilian management
drove America's armed forces into the ground.
- Rumsfeld & Co. will bear primary responsibility for
the disaster, which will no doubt disturb them greatly as they enjoy their
luxurious retirements. But our senior generals and admirals are the equivalent
of the board of directors, and they would have some difficulty convincing
Hack that they were just the piano players in the affair.
- (William S. Lind, expressing his personal opinion, is
director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress